Monkey still firmly on our backs
Greetings all and apologies for the lack of contact. Imari and I headed straight to Europe after our ICC Champions Trophy exit two weeks ago. It was a trip arranged at the last minute, right after we lost to England.
Believe me, it wasn’t an attempt to avoid facing the music and the criticism – it was just an opportunity to take a week or so off and do something we’ve been wanting to do for some time now.
Due to the fact that it was so last minute the various flight prices into the rest of Europe were incredibly expensive.
However, we were keen to see Paris, Venice and Rome, so we jumped on the Eurostar from London to Paris. What an incredible experience! We ended up sitting next to a South African guy who has lived in Paris for the past 10 years and he overheard us speaking Afrikaans.
We were very keen to see the Eiffel Tower and he recommended that we book dinner there as that way you avoid the queue, which sometimes takes two hours.
In fact, he booked dinner for us on the second floor and we had an amazing time there, with unbelievable views. The Eiffel Tower really is something worth seeing. Paris itself was electric and I loved the vibe there.
Venice was something different and a really romantic city – not something to do with a couple of guy mates! For the Italians everything is about food and wine – and that was right up our alley. The pasta, pizza and wine flowed and it was nice to experience that part of the Italian culture.
In Rome we were proper tourists, exploring every major sight – the Vatican, the Colosseum, St Peter’s Basilica etc. I’m not usually someone who likes the historical side of things, but this was something different and I really enjoyed it.
I’ve obviously had time to reflect on the loss to England and our Champions Trophy semifinal. Quite simply, we had a really bad day. The toss played only a 10% role. The start of our innings was tough, but we just didn’t arrive on the day.
As I said in previous blogs, the key to success batting first on those English wickets was keeping wickets in hand and seeing off the initial period. We just didn’t do that and when you’re 80 for eight, it’s game over.
Mentally, I thought we were really soft and didn’t show enough fight. We were really poor in that department and it really hurt.
Building up to the England game I thought we were playing better and better cricket, but the reality is that we probably didn’t deserve to be in the semifinals.
We lost to India and had some luck with the tie against the West Indies, although I do think we played well against them. However, it wasn’t a perfect run and we didn’t deserve to be there.
I obviously saw Gary Kirsten's comments about us choking. It’s a really tough one for me. I understand that on the day we were mentally weak and that you can maybe put that down to choking. But, for me, choking is about getting yourself into a winning position and then giving it away.
I’m a bit on the fence with regards to Gary’s comments – I agree that we probably choked in that we didn’t arrive. However, in the match itself there wasn’t a situation where we choked as a team. It is something though that will remain on our backs for quite some time, even for the next tournament.
We are so used to it by now and, unfortunately, the only way we are going to get rid of it is to win something. Even if we get to a final and lose, people will still say that we choked.
Funnily enough, not much is made of England choking in the final against India, but that’s maybe because they have won silverware, so less is made of them falling short this time.
That, unfortunately, is the way it is, and we just have to accept it and deal with it. Hopefully, in the future, we can get the monkey off our backs.
Next up is the tour of Sri Lanka, and we leave on the 15th of July. In between I’ve got some time in Cape Town, planning for our wedding later in the year.
I’m also going to be spending my birthday – 13 July – at home for the first time in ages. It will be really nice to celebrate with family and friends.
Lastly, the Cricket South Africa Awards and golf day have been cancelled due to former president Nelson Mandela’s condition. I think it’s the right thing, as I don’t think we should be celebrating our achievements in the past year when the country is going through a tough time.
More importantly, I’m hoping and praying that Madiba recovers – I know he’s old, but the longer we can have him, the better. He’s been such an inspiration to our country.
Until next week.